A Dead-Simple Google AdWords Certification Guide: Costs, Tips & Tricks for G…

Posted: February 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
If you are a social media consultant, you should consider this!

via Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream by Tom Demers on 2/10/11


Earlier this week in digging into some Google insights for search data we learned that an increasing number of you are looking for information about Google’s AdWords Certification program:

insights-for-search-top-searches-rising-searches

The impetus for all this new-found search interest is likely a rebranding of Google’s partner program and a series of changes on Google’s end to how the AdWords certification process works, including several eligibility standards.

As with the need for free AdWords videos mentioned here recently, not all of Google’s help materials are immediately helpful, and the same is true for the documentation around the AdWords certification program (possibly another reason for a jump in search traffic here).

In this post we’ll try to represent some of the nuts and bolts information around getting certified in a manner that’s slightly easier to digest, and we’ll also try to layer some additional useful tips and advice on top of what you can get from the AdWords help materials. There’s quite a bit of content in an FAQ layout so feel free to jump to your favorite question below:

What Are the Different Types of AdWords Certification?

This is an important distinction to understand right out of the gate — Google offers both individual and company certification. Basically the distinction is simply that:

  • An individual AdWords certification requires you to take two exams (more on this later).
  • A company (or professionals or partner) AdWords certification requires that you have a qualified individual linked to your MCC (My Client Center) account and that you have at least $10,000 in managed spend assigned to your AdWords MCC account over a period of 90 days.  

Should I Get an Individual AdWords Certification?

This is obviously the most important question to ask and answer before you get started down the path to AdWords certification. The answer depends entirely on your objective. If you’re simply looking to learn AdWords, I don’t think the certification is the best use of your time and resources. There are several things covered here that aren’t necessarily critical to your being successful with AdWords (for instance you might be focused on B2B lead generation — in that case much of what you’d learn about product extentions might be gratuitous and not actionable for you). If you have $100 to spend and simply want to figure out how to get the best possible bang for your educational buck I’d recommend picking up either Brad Geddes’ Advanced Google AdWords or David Szetela's Pay Per Click Marketing an Hour a Day. If you’re willing to invest a bit more time and money then training programs like PPC Blog and Certified Knowledge will be more than worth the monthly fees. And of course there's always pay-per-click software to try and buy.

There are two main instances where I think the certification can be valuable, however:

  • You Are a PPC Specialist – If you’re a PPC specialist this can be a very useful credential. If your core focus is PPC and you think it’s likely to stay that way, it’ll be valuable as you look for future positions to have the certification. Most good agencies and companies won’t use this as a sole factor in a decision, but it can serve as a nice filter in the event that yours is one of a stack of resumes.
  • You Are an Independent Consultant or Take on Side Work – Again this can serve as a nice trust factor in prospecting for clients. In some instances clients will be very impressed with the certification, and in others they’ll just see it as a nice-to-have and an indication that you’re at the very least familiar with the AdWords interface, but in either case it has some utility and is likely well worth the time investment and minimal cost.

Should I Get an AdWords Partner Certification?

For this one I think the answer is generally "yes" if you're at a point where you're asking the question. The caveat being that you'll need to be managing at least $10,000 spend in a 90-day period. I certainly wouldn't advocate dedicating a PPC budget to meeting the qualifications if you don't already, but in the event that you are already managing that for clients it's likely worth having one of your employees get individual certification (or doing so yourself) and achieving partner certification. If you're selling PPC management services this is again a nice trust signal for prospective clients. An additional benefit here is that you're listed in Google's certified partners database and when people search that database for certain criteria they can find your company and become a lead for you.

How Much Does AdWords Certification Cost?

This is effectively $100: you have to take two exams (one basic and one advanced) for individual certification. If you’re attempting to get company certification this could be zero (if you have an employee already qualified and are managing $10,000 over a 90-day span you just need to sign up).

How Do I Sign Up to Take the AdWords Certification Exam?

This is a bit more involved. Google's help documentation lays the process out in a fairly straightforward way, but the document with the information is a bit difficult to locate so here are the steps: 

Choose the scenario that applies to you in order to see steps on how to take the exams.

A. Purchasing an exam (no Testing Center account)

  1. Start at your AdWords Certification Program Account:
  2. You will now be at the Google Testing Center.
    • Click Create an account now
    • Complete all fields
    • Click Submit
  3. Click Purchase Test.
    • Click Buy for the exam(s) you want to purchase.
    • Click Place Order.
  4. Complete your purchase:
    • Choose your preferred checkout method and complete your purchase.
    • Click Continue with Purchase
    • Review all info is correct and click Place Your Order
    • View your order confirmation, which serves as your receipt. You may print this for your records.
  5. Complete these steps to activate and start the exam:
    • Click the link to activate your online products, or click the link to access your account.
    • You will be taken back to your profile page, where you’ll need to enter your Candidate ID (you should have found your Candidate ID in step #1, and written this down) and click theSave button.
    • Activate your exam by accepting the terms and conditions.
    • Click Start Online and follow the directions to start the exam. (You will need to take the exam in a separate secure application, the Testing Center Browser. Be sure to use the drop-down to choose the language you want to take the exam in.)

B. Purchase an exam (existing Testing Center account)

  1. Start at your AdWords Certification Program Account:
  2. You will now be at the Google Testing Center.
    • Enter your login information and password for the Google Testing Center and click Sign in
    • Click Purchase Test
    • Click Buy for the exam(s) you want to purchase
    • Click Place Order.
  3. Complete your purchase:
    • Choose your preferred checkout method and complete your purchase.
    • Click Continue with Purchase
    • Review all info is correct and click Place Your Order
    • View your order confirmation, which serves as your receipt. You may print this for your records.
  4. Complete these steps to activate and start the exam:
    • Click the link to activate your online products, or click the link to access your account to be taken back to your profile page.
    • FYI – if this is your first time purchasing a GCP exam, you will be taken back to your Profile page upon submitting your order to fill in your Candidate ID (you should have found your Candidate ID in step #1, and written this down)
    • Click Start Online and follow the directions to start the exam. (You will need to take the exam in a separate secure application, the Testing Center Browser. Be sure to use the drop-down to choose the language you want to take the exam in.)

If you have a voucher they also have instructions for that use case in the help document.

Is There an AdWords Certification Course?

As far as I know the only learning aids are the help materials offered by Google, but these should be more than sufficient in preparing for the test, pariticularly as they offer both textual and video content. If you’re looking for a live learning experience around AdWords, Brad Geddes runs AdWords Seminars for Success but these tend to be more advanced and are not focused around passing the AdWords certification exams.

AdWords Certification Tips & Study Aids

Our friends at PPC Hero contributed a post on 5 tips to pass PPC certification exams, which offers some good general advice including taking notes on the help materials and being careful to give yourself enough time to prepare. Some additional tips I’d ad would be:

  • If you’re familiar with AdWords, spend time on the areas you see least in the account (billing, ad types you don’t frequently use) — don’t get cocky, there is a lot of stuff in the interface and you very well may not have a lot of access to all of it.
  • Print out your notes — I believe that in all cases the new test format blacks out your screen (which wasn’t the case with the previous test).
  • Use the same types of test-taking game theory you would for any test. You have the option to come back to questions and they’re multiple choice, so don’t spend too long on a question and make sure you’re marking something and flagging the question to come back to.
  • Don’t panic! If you’re prepared you’ll have plenty of time to take the test, and it’s very passable, even if you’re new to AdWords, if you’ve taken the time to study.

In terms of studying for the test the only aid or guide you'll really need will be the AdWords learning center materials: http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/go/learningcenter so be sure to check out both the text and video content there that pertains to the test you're taking.

About the Author

This is a guest post from Tom Demers. Tom is a co-founder and managing partner at Measured SEM Search Engine Marketing Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that offers general SEO & PPC services as well a variety of specific content marketing and link building services. You can follow Tom on Twitter or contact him via email at tom at measuredsem dot com.

This post originated on the WordStream Blog. WordStream provides keyword tools for pay-per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) aiding in everything from keyword discovery to keyword grouping and organization.

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